"In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love."
Morning light comes slowly on these middling pages in January. First is a diffused blush on the horizon, then a deep magenta sky and rosy clouds high over the trees, flamboyant coppery gold dancing through everything, a burnished glow flowing like honey over the village. Trees, chimneys and snowy rooflines are silhouetted against the early radiance, and they contribute their own glow to the day that is just coming into being.
These are my "stained glass hours", and they have illustrious kindred; the rose window of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the panels of Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, the stained glass creations of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the magnificent creations of Marc Chagall: his paintings of the biblical Song of Songs, the stained glass windows (especially the Reuben window) depicting the Twelve Tribes of Israel he designed for the synagogue of Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Centre. Then there are the windows he created as a memorial for Sarah d'Avigdor-Goldsmith in All Saints Church, Tudeley, Kent. Commissioned by her parents to create a single commemorative window after Sarah's untimely death in a sailing accident, Chagall attended its dedication and saw the pre-Norman structure for the first time. He thought it was magnificent and decided to create panels for the other eleven windows.
Compelled for some reason to be up and about before the light show starts, off I go to find a seat by the window and partake of the abundance. I bring a mug of tea, a heavy shawl and the camera. Chagall often seemed to be seeing the beauty of the earth through stained glass, and wrapped up in a winter morning's exquisite colours, I seem to be doing the same thing. Nature and Chagall are artists—I am merely a doddering observer, training my lens on the high perfect light of morning and floundering for words to describe it.